West Kelowna  

Geese shot and decapitated

UPDATE: 6:15 p.m.

Following a report of a man shooting geese in the Gellatly Road area, police say they're aware of an individual in West Kelowna who has the proper permit to legally cull geese on their property.

"It is common practice for police to be notified when a person plans to discharge a firearm under these circumstances," said Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey of the Kelowna RCMP.

"Police would only become involved if the firearms were to be mishandled or used in a manner dangerous or threatening to the general public."

ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

“He proceeded to climb the fence, go over to where the geese were and literally pull their heads off with his hands.”

A West Kelowna woman says she was “extremely traumatized” after witnessing the gruesome culling of several Canadian Geese in the Gellatly Road area earlier this month. And it appears the shooting may have been perfectly legal.

Dianne Bertucci was walking her dog on Gellatly Road near The Cove Lakeside Resort in the afternoon of Feb. 15 when she saw a man pull over to the east side of the road, pull out a rifle and shoot several Canadian Geese that were sitting in an empty field.

Bertucci says the man then pulled the geese's heads off, leaving them scattered around the field.

“There are hundreds of people that walk along that sidewalk and there he is, standing right there with his rifle shooting geese and pulling their heads off and he's got blood all over his hands and blood all over his clothes,” Bertucci said.

Shaken up by the gruesome scene, she confronted the man. He told her he had been hired by the property owner and he had a permit. He said leaving the heads behind wards off other geese who might be planning on stopping by the field.

Not convinced, Bertucci called the police.

“The RCMP confirmed that in fact, this man has a permit to, in a public area, in front of children, people, everybody, get out of his truck, shoot animals and pull their heads off,” she said.

“This cannot be for real, I'm extremely distressed about this and apparently he does have a permit, which I cannot wrap my mind around.”

Kirsten Jones with the City of West Kelowna says when it comes to a “pest control undertaking” on private property, the city has no jurisdiction.

“You're not allowed to just shoot off weapons within city limits, you have to have a permit for that kind of thing, and that would be done through Conservation,” Jones said.

The permit is actually granted by Environment Canada, under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Andrea Norris, migratory bird management biologist with Environment Canada, says permits can be granted when bird activities result in an economic loss to the land owner due to spoiled crops, the cost of cleaning goose droppings or expenses of turf management, among other things.

“Exemptions from firearm discharge bylaws are available in places where it is safe to do so,” Norris added.

“In some cases, it may be permitted to leave behind carcasses and these act as a deterrent to other birds, but that will depend on the specific situation.”

Norris couldn't provide the details of the specific permit for the Gellatly property by publication time.

Bertucci says she doesn't understand how a firearm is allowed to be discharged so close to the public.

“This is just a random guy getting out of his truck with a rifle in the middle of the day, shooting animals and pulling their heads off,” she said.

“Especially in this climate right now of random shootings ... how could they possibly think this is OK.”

Norris said if there are concerns about the discharge of firearms by a permit holder, it would be a police issue.

The RCMP did not return a request for comment on this story.

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